A special court has rejected the plea of accused doctor in the Payal Tadvi abetment of suicide case for exemption from attending court stating that the accused cannot take the benefit of their own acts of filing application after application before it and then claim exemption from attending court on the ground that these applications will take time to be decided.
Accused Dr. Hema Ahuja had sought permanent exemption from attending court at least till framing of charges in the case and said that thereafter she could attend court as and when directed by it. She had also cited COVID duty and quarantine requirements that hindered such attendance for her. Her plea had cited the exemption granted time and again by the court during the lockdown when she and other co-accused doctors were in their respective natives.
Special judge under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act Ajit N. Mare said in his order, “It is not certain when the stage of framing of charge will arrive since the accused are moving application after application before this court. The accused cannot take the benefit of their own acts of filing applications before this court and then claim that this court will take time to decide such applications.”
Judge Mare noted that it was argued by Ahuja’s advocate that no benefit will be achieved by asking her to remain present before the court. There is no question of benefit or loss to anyone, the court remarked and said that it is a question of following the mandate of the apex court as well as the Bombay High Court both of which require her to attend the court dates. It called the argument that no benefit will be achieved by asking the accused to attend dates as “audacious”.
Much capital is made of the grant of exemption to accused during the lockdown, the court said and noted that the situation cannot be compared with the present scenario. It said that they had been allowed to travel to their native places and due to complete lockdown and restrictions on movement they had got stuck in their native places.
Regarding Ahuja’s plea for exemption on grounds of COVID-19 duty, the court said that considering the duty shifts, she can get assigned duty hours so that it does not restrain her from attending court. Further, regarding her fear of spreading the infection, it said she is a doctor and doctors are aware how to secure oneself from infection and also spreading infection. Such apprehension expressed by her does not appear to be acceptable, it said.
Ahuja and two other doctors are accused of driving their junior in BYL Nair hospital Dr. Payal Tadvi to suicide in May last year by caste-based humiliation.